Earth Day: How kids can help protect our environment

Written by: Amy Cahill

What can you do to reduce the amount of trash you create?  Make sure I eat all my lunch at school, even when there’s broccoli.  – Ella, 8

The creative power of the ten and under crowd is at it again in month two of our “Little People, Big Hearts, Big Impact,” and I’m back to explore a new cause: our environment.  In honor of Earth Day this month, I am encouraging my family to reduce, reuse, and recycle and hoping to spread the word so other families can do the same. 

The 3-month winter period from January to March 2012 was another record-breaker; it was the warmest of that period on record since 1895.   Like many Chicagoans, my son and I thoroughly enjoyed the abnormal winter temperatures.  Instead of bundling up in multiple layers, we were taking afternoon-long strolls in t-shirts.  Chicago winters are notoriously brutal, and I wasn’t disappointed that winter essentially never arrived this year.  But hiding behind the pleasant temperatures is the sobering fact that we are in the midst of a global climate crisis, a crisis that is caused in part by our actions.    

According to NASA, most climate scientists agree that the main cause of the global warming trend we are currently experiencing is human contribution to the “greenhouse effect.”  The greenhouse effect is warming that occurs when heat is trapped by atmospheric greenhouse gases and that heat is released again.  Ultimately, global warming could have devastating effects including the loss of animal habitats, a decrease in the amount of fresh water available, and the increased spread of some diseases.     

Many of the activities we take part in daily, such as driving to work, turning on lights and appliances, and throwing away garbage, cause greenhouse gases to be released.  It’s not possible to completely eliminate our release of greenhouse gases, but there are countless things we can do to reduce our impact on the environment. 

Many of these activities can be fun, family-friendly experiences. TRY:

  • Walk, bike, or take the train to an appointment or for errands and explain to your child why you are doing so. 
  • Take your child on a “green tour” of your home.  Let older children help create the tour stops: turning off the faucet while brushing teeth, recycling food containers, turning off lights when not in a room, and picking up trash in the yard.
  • Help your child be an environmentally-friendly artist: color on both sides of paper and make craft projects from items like used paper towel rolls and milk cartons.  
  • Have your child help you sort items between trash and recycling.  This can be really fun for a toddler!
  • Most importantly, be an environmental example for your child to follow.

Want to get more involved? Some ideas for family-friendly volunteer activities:            

Great books to help your child learn about the environment:

  • Clifford’s Spring Clean-Up by Norman Bridwell
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • I Can Save the Earth: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle by Allison Inches

Before you turn off your computer to save electricity, we would love some answers for next month’s question. Ask your little oneWhat can you do it if an elderly person is lonely and doesn’t have family around to keep them company? Please post your answers below.

Learn more about how you can get involved with More than Milk - A community of moms with a philanthropic focus, giving moms “more than milk” to talk about with their family and friends. We provide opportunities for moms to meet and support non-profit organizations and build a culture of giving in their families, all without a babysitter.

Posted on April 20, 2012 at 9:38 AM